Living Solo in the Big City

Erica Horne braces for unexpected expenses as she becomes a homeowner in New York

Photo by Rayon Richards

Photo by Rayon Richards

New York native Erica Horne, 35, wonders how she will continue to make ends meet now that she is a homeowner. After searching for four years to find a  property she could afford, the New York state teacher finally hit the housing jackpot in June when she was selected through a low- to medium-income homebuyer program to purchase a one-bedroom co-op in the Bronx for only $67,000. Purchasing a co-op is generally cheaper than buying a condo or home, because the buyer does not own a piece of real estate. Instead, the buyer owns shares in the co-op corporation that owns the building.

Horne grew up in Harlem and says gentrification made her housing search “laughable” because she couldn’t afford to purchase any properties. “I could be in a poor neighborhood and right across the street from me the places would be $800,000 to $1 million. Then I saw lotteries available for people with medium incomes, and that’s how I got the co-op,” explains Horne who is single, has no children, and earns an annual salary of $52,000.

Since graduating from Buffalo State College in 1999, Horne has been living at home with her parents and paying them rent. In recent years, while living at home, she was able to save at least $400 per month and accumulated savings of more than $10,000. Less than a month after purchasing her home, Horne’s savings has decreased to only $1,300 after making a 10% down payment and paying closing costs. She worries, however, that the $400 she had been socking away each month will be devoured by expenses such as utilities and furnishing the house.

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